Today the Root lab went to the local metropark forum and learned multiple things during 10 presentations that I would like to summarize for those who were not able to make it or who are not familiar with this region. There were many posters as well, but adding their info to this blog would turn it into a book chapter.
There is an area of NW Ohio between Liberty Center and Toledo (as well as extending north into Michigan) that is called the Oak Openings Region. An area of great biodiversity in Ohio formed from the melting ice sheets of the last ice age.
Today's main conclusions wrapped up as simply as possible from our presentations are:
1. Lake Sturgeon are on a path of reintroduction into the Maumee River/Lake Erie area!
2. Peregrine falcons have been delisted in Ohio, and the future looks promising!
3. The breeding raptor survey of the Oak Openings Region has seen 11 species of raptors in the area. It is based on volunteer surveys done from Feb-March to June-July, if you would like to get involved see the Metroparks volunteer page:
4. Bumble bees, who knew there were 10 species occurring in NW Ohio? Plus, there is a cuckoo bee that looks like a bumble, but parasitizes nests. It reminds me of a cow bird, if you know what that is. We learned how to identify them and how the Toledo Zoo / Wild Toledo! is installing more prairies in urban areas to help the local bee community (as well as other species).
5. Geologist/Hydrologists have discovered what has happened to the areas rivers since the last ice age, helping us understand why the rivers responded to human changes the way that they do. Very important information that describes the rivers flood storage capacity.
6. There is a DNR program that has helped review the quality of the area streams/rivers called the Volunteer stream quality monitoring program (SQM). This is where surveys of macroinvertebrates in stream shallows are completed, and species composition is an indicators of quality. For more information on how you can help out with this, visit this webpage:
7. We got a look at the work going on at a restoration process in Paulding county, OH by the Black Swamp Conservancy that is taking an old agricultural field near a swamp forest and turning into an prairie with a meandering creek.
8. Deer are taking over the metropark! Just kidding, but really their numbers have been high enough in the metroparks to create wide-spread plant damage. So the metroparks has reduced their numbers with active hunts and culls to keep the population balanced with their natural surroundings. This is working well since there is an adaptive management plan in place to assess plant damage from deer, assess the deer population before implementing removal of deer. The results are more regeneration of native tree and shrub species with less of a strain for survival for deer populations. They were so hungry they were eating cherry trees which contain toxins.
9. The Oak Openings Region is so diverse that it can be a daunting task to classifying restoration areas as a success. So the Green Ribbon Initiative Science commitee has developed a rapid assessment method to quickly assess the quality of habitat in the Oak Openings Region. It has been under development and testing for several years, and its working. In 2017 there will be training accessible for those parties interested in learning how to do this!
10. Orchids are a beauty of this region with their own groupies. We learned today about the difficulties in identifying orchids of the Spiranthes genus. There is a call for those interested in looking specifically for S. lucida in June to email sightings to firstname.lastname@example.org